Παρασκευή, 10 Μαρτίου 2017

Budding reporters

Eftychia Kousteni
4th High School - Ilion, Greece - Year 11 [2015-2016]

Loty Petrovitch Androutsopoulou

Born and raised in the heart of Athens, Exarchia, in a childhood sealed by the inhumanity of the occupation and the horrors of the Civil War, her adolescence was overshadowed by the difficult period that followed. She studied music, foreign languages and English literature, while she worked for her livelihood, from the age of 19. First, for the team of the 20th Century Fox, for a time in the newsreel company offices MonieTone Fox News in Athens and then, for the next 27 years, in the Mission of Greece to the International Organization for Migration. As she states, the knowledge and experience she gained from her work there, but also any difficulties encountered was a priceless treasure: They armed her with patience, perseverance and courage for life, while her contact with persecuted people or victims of wars and natural disasters, boosted her concern for her fellow men, the longing for peace and justice, as well as the desire for social contribution.
Along with her job, her love for literature, her inclination to writing and her concern for children and young people, led her to write books mainly addressed to the youthful readership. Her first book was published in 1973, and continued with 64 more titles, including projects for teens, children books and theoretical books on child / adolescent literature. Some of her works have been translated into foreign languages such as Japanese, Korean, English and Albanian . Great encouragement and honor were the occasionally awarded prizes, some of them, the Ourani Award from the Academy of Athens, two National Children's Book Awards, ten more child / youth literature prizes and four honorary plaques by other bodies and Honorary Diplomas from the University of Padua and the IBBY.
The response to her work by children and young people, letters and messages in addition to some interesting discussions with them when she visits schools, give her courage to continue. Loty Petrovitch Androutsopoulou, a lady who made it through World War II and managed to put her stories into books, which give us something special. How hard is it for us to find some sort of meaning under terrible circumstances? She depicted lively the past, used words to affect us with a plethora of feelings, narrated her life to help us see things from various perspectives. As a little girl she was afraid of death instead of cherishing life and I, as a reader, know her life as she wished to. What is a book without a soul, anyway?

On the tenth of March 23rd 2016, a group of students of the 4th High school of Ilion met this wondrous writer, on our classmate’s, Harry Boindas’s, initiative, who convinced our headmaster to let him organize an absolutely incredible project, based on her biography and a conversation with the rest of us, basically consisting of our views on her stories. Each mouth gave a different word and contradictions took place, which means, she indeed accomplished to interest and puzzle us at the same time. She also answered questions for our questionnaire, talked about her experiences and gave us a clear account of what she has been through. She guided her readers through the historical neighborhood of Exarcheia, where she spent her childhood, during the horrible years of the Second World War.

Exarchia (Greek: Εξάρχεια) is the name of a neighborhood in downtown Athens, Greece, close to the historical building of the National Technical University of Athens. The Exarchia region is famous as a home for Greek anarchists. It was named after the merchant Exarchos (Greek: Εξαρχος) who had opened a large general store there. The district of Exarchia was created between 1870 and 1880 on the outskirts of 19th century Athens, and has played a significant role in the social and political life of Greece. This is where the Athens Polytechnic uprising of November 1973 took place. Exarchia is a place where many intellectuals and artists live and an area where many socialist, anarchist, and antifascist groups are accommodated. It is also an art hub, where theatrical shows and concerts take place around the central square. I believe that Mrs. Petrovitch sees the beauty of  old buildings ruins, talks about them, and makes you at home around her favorite places.

The National Archaeological Museum of Athens and Strefi Hill are both located here. At Exarchia square you can see one of the oldest summer cinemas of Athens, called "Vox", as well as the Antonopoulos apartment building, known as the "Blue Building", because of its initial color, which is a typical example of the modernist movement of Greek architecture of the inter-war period. Due to the political and intellectual character of the neighborhood, many bookstores and organic food stores are also located in Exarchia.Those were some of the places the writer stopped in order to narrate numerous situations that occurred there when she was a little girl and also, a young woman. She pointed at houses she once could enter and showed places that triggered her to discover the beauty and the singularity of Exarchia. The "Blue Building" is not blue anymore, she mentioned somewhat disappointed. Thus, she walked to Karolos Koun’s house (a Greek theater director, widely known for his lively staging of Greek plays) and reached the spot where fifteen-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos was killed by the police in 2008.
An unforgettable school trip, indeed. We thank Mrs. Loty Petrovitch Androutsopoulou for giving us the opportunity to experience such a life even through her storytelling and meeting us. We wish her the best.

Ευτυχία Κουστένη [Β3 2015-2016]

Υou can see the first website blog aticle about this event in Greek, here.

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